How to Get Clients as a Freelance Writer: 10 Brilliant Strategies

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Whether you’re just starting your freelance writing career or slogging through a slow period, figuring out how to get clients can be nerve-wracking.

The hard truth: You’re going to have to hustle to get new writing clients. Even the most experienced freelancers have to expand their circles on a regular basis.

Sites that post freelance writing jobs are plentiful, but require a critical eye. It’s easy to get sucked into a trap of getting paid $1 for every 300-word post you research and write. But that work isn’t fulfilling, and it’ll never fill your piggy bank.

If you’re going to get high-paying writing gigs and repeat clients, you’ll have to spend some time thinking beyond the job board.

Here are 10 ways to kickstart your client search.

1. Personalize your cold calls and emails

“Make sure the right people — the decision-makers — see your message,” advises Francesca Nicasio.

If you’re sending pitches or letters of interest to a generic inbox, your message is likely to get deleted by an intern. Do some research and direct your note to the one person at the company who is most likely to need your services.

“If you’re dealing with a small business or startup,” Nicasio explains, “The company’s founder is usually a good bet.”

2. Partner with other freelancers

Do you know any project managers, web developers or graphic designers? Their projects often require top-notch writing skills, which opens up opportunities to work together.

If your web development buddy knows you’re willing to team up for a website redesign project, she can recommend you to the client. By sticking together, you can find ways to help one another build your businesses and get paid.

“I have a list of writers I trust to get my clients to hire,” writes Paul Jarvis, who specializes in web design. “I know writing makes or breaks websites and I know the difference a professional makes. So I always suggest experienced writers to all my design clients and they often hire them.”

3. Volunteer your services

Volunteering may not pay the bills, but it’s a useful way to network without having to deal with small talk at happy hour.

“Volunteering is a great way to get to know influential people who can help with your freelancing career — especially if you volunteer to do the writing and promotional duties for those projects,” Narendra Motwani notes on Instashift. Motwani advises you to consider the people you meet while volunteering to determine potential connections to companies you’d love to write for.

4. Book a speaking engagement

This tip only works if you’re comfortable in front of a crowd. But if you’d rather give a speech than approach strangers at happy hour, then this is your perfect fit.

“Any business/civic organization made up of businesspeople would be a good target for a speaking offer,” writes Peter Bowerman of The Well-Fed Writer. “What we commercial writers do … is something every business potentially needs.”

Make it easy for businesses to remember you when they need assistance by sharing your experience at local events.

5. Get back in touch with former clients

If you’re not in regular contact with previous clients or organizations you’ve volunteered for, you could be leaving business on the table.

Samar Owais shares via Copyblogger that this outreach can be as simple as a short email to check in with a business; be sure to mention that you have bandwidth for additional work. “You never know when a client might send work your way simply because you popped up on their radar at the right time,” Owais notes.

6. Search for opportunities on Twitter

You’ll never get any work done if you spend all day on Twitter. But by scheduling time each week to use Twitter’s advanced search, you’ll be able to see when companies are looking for help. David Masters has a quick how-to that will get you started and help you refine your search terms.

7. Shout about your skills and services

Advertising your freelance writing services goes beyond printing up business cards and going to networking events. Check your online profiles. Is your specialty listed clearly?

“When I added ‘freelance writer’ to my author bios and social media profiles,” Kristi Hines tells Bidsketch, “more new client requests started rolling in.” Your writing business should be apparent on anything and everything a potential client might see. Your network won’t know they can hire you unless it’s clear what you do!

8. Write a niche blog

If you’re looking for work as a blogger, you should certainly write a blog of your own. Carol Tice of Making a Living Writing tells Bidsketch your blog should focus on a niche, although the topic doesn’t have to line up exactly with your target market.

“Clients love to see that you understand how to develop many strong story ideas on a single theme, stick to a topic, write great Internet headlines, attract subscribers, and how to get engagement — comments and social shares,” Tice says. “[Potential clients] will want you to do all that for them.”

9. Sell a product

You only have 24 hours in a day, but selling a product you created can help you make money even while you’re sleeping.

“Creating a product can be a great way to demonstrate your expertise,” suggests Corbett Barr on the Men with Pens blog. “A strong product will create the perception that you’re an authority on your topic and can lead to attracting new clients.” Think about white papers, short guides or ebooks you could offer.

10. Pitch guest blog posts — with discretion

Guest blogging might not bring in revenue — only some sites pay for guest posts — but it will help get your name in front of a lot of potential clients. Don’t spread yourself too thin by guest-blogging for everyone, though.

“Branding and image-building should be your primary reasons for guest blogging,” Jawad Khan shares. “High-quality guest posts on [4-5] top blogs of your niche are enough to build your credibility.”

What are your tried-and-true methods for reeling in new clients?

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Lisa Rowan joined The Write Life as a contributor in 2014 and was named editor in 2015. When she's not writing about writing, she cohosts Pop Fashion, a weekly fashion and business podcast.... .

Lisa Rowan | @lisatella

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Comments

  1. Thanks Lisa, for the shout-out. Sincerely appreciated. Great list! Thanks for including me…

    PB

  2. Referral from clients is among the best and easiest ways to land new business. Once you know a client is satisfied with your work, mention other types of work that you could do for them. I’ve gotten new business this way.

  3. Thanks Lisa!These strategies are truly simple and brilliant.
    Volunteer your services is a great wait to find clients for the freelance beginners. It provides you positive reviews.

  4. hello can i get direct clients. i am good in handling research thesis, assignments and anything so long as it is part of academic writing looking forward to hear from the department.Regards

  5. Thanks for the information. I am a beginner looking for clients. Any help?

    • A beginner can do any of the things listed here, but you’re going to put in a lot of work first.

      Try one or two that you’re comfortable doing and go from there.

  6. For me, it really boils down to cold calling, personally going to local businesses and shaking hands, being active on legitimate job boards, and calling local agencies to take on their overflow work.

    You have to want it really, really badly and be totally on board with doing grunt work for a while until you gain traction. Not everyone is made for doing sales.

    I actually go in depth about how to get clients in this article. It’s more design-centric as that is what I do, but a lot of the concepts map one-to-one with general freelancing.

    http://www.letstalkdesign.co/professional-hints/how-to-find-new-clients/

Trackbacks

  1. […] How to Get Clients as a Freelance Writer: 10 Brilliant Strategies [The Write Life] […]

  2. […] me feel better, since my design projects are sometimes less than desirable. Alexis Grant actually recommends teaming up with certain design experts, like Daphne does, because you’re more marketable as a team. I […]

  3. […] I learned both from Eck and from “How to Get Clients as a Freelance Writer: 10 Brilliant Strategies” is that it really helps to have a good presence of self understanding in order to make a good […]

  4. […] section of their website dedicated to freelancing. You can receive advice on topics such as how to find clients, success stories from other writers, and general guidelines. In the short time I’ve been […]

  5. […] Carol Tice recommends you invest time in networking on social media accounts (she shares how here) and Lisa Rowan shares ten truly insightful ways to find clients on The Write Life here. […]

  6. […] and also recommended him to his friends who had freelance writing work. That’s how Daniel started landing direct clients. It’s because he delivered high-quality work to his first […]

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